Best Laid Plans – A One Scene Play
A man in his early sixties, balding, gray bristles on his cheeks, stands alone on the covered front porch of a small cement block house. An American flag hangs from the left porch post and two pots of spindly geraniums are hanging from hooks above the porch railing. The man sits down in a chipped, green- painted wooden rocker, and gazes over autumn brown grass, watching the occasional traffic zip by on the highway in front of his house. He takes a cigarette out of the front pocket of his flannel shirt and rolls it, back and forth, between his thumb and forefinger. Then the man leans forward, as if facing a companion, and puts his elbows on his knees.
“Lord, I’ve known for most of my life that you have a plan for all of us. You must have something up your sleeve for me now, but I can’t for the life of me figure it out.”
He leans back in his chair and rocks, the audience can hear the sand crunching under the rockers then the roar of a Harley passing by. He stops again to speak once the motorcycle engine has faded down the road.
“Trouble is, what about my plans? Didn’t they count for anything?”
The man rocks some more, twirling the thin cigarette between his fingers like a baton.
“It’s not like my plans weren’t good, God-fearing plans. I wasn’t figuring on spending my retirement in a golf cart with a few beers after lunch and trips to Vegas with Victoria.”
The man let out a deep sigh and put the cold cigarette in his mouth, then took it back out.
“Do you even know what we wanted to do over the next ten or twenty years?”
He pushes against the concrete floor harder, making the back rockers knock against the front of the house like a protest.
“Well, I’m going to tell you. Victoria and I were going to do missions trips – in your name! We had a trip to India lined up for this summer to visit some orphanage with fifty or sixty blind kids who had been pulled off the streets. The missionary who visited our church asked people to fly over and visit, take pictures, spread the word, raise some money.”
The next rock backwards gets the right rocker stuck under the vinyl siding, so the man has to stand up and pull his chair further away from the house. He sits back down and continues his rocking and talking.
“Victoria already collected a suitcase full of clothes, toys, tape recorders, and books on tape. I bought some carving knives to give out. I could have taught them how to carve things. You don’t have to see to carve stuff out of wood. Maybe they could have sold the stuff one day.”
The man’s rocking slows down until he is barely moving.
“And we planned on spending time with the grandkids. I haven’t been able to see them much with work and all. I figured now I’d have time to teach the boys how to fish. I don’t think their dad has put a pole in their hands yet.”
The man stops rocking altogether. The camera shows a few tears roll down his cheeks.
“What about Victoria, God? How is she going to handle this place all by herself? The kids live too far away to help much.”
The man leans back, resting his head against the wood slats of the chair. He closes his eyes and keeps them closed while he continues speaking.
“Talk to me, God. Tell me why getting cancer is such a good plan.”
“I’ve been a faithful, prayerful, church going man for a long time now. Don’t I deserve an explanation?”
The man goes back to his rocking. He opens his eyes before crying outloud.
“Talk to me! I need to understand!”
The man stops pushing and sits still. His hands loosen their grip on the arm rest and his unlit cigarette falls to the porch floor. He is obviously listening to something and someone. His shoulders relax and he remains silent as the camera pulls back.
“Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10 NRSV
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